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March 04, 2004 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-04

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news@michigandaily.com

NEWS

The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - 3A

New research field focuses on videogames

Gunshot reported
near Maiden Lane
and Fuller Road
The Department of Public Safety
responded to the area of Maiden Lane
and Fuller Road after receiving a
report that a shot was fired there Sun-
day afternoon. The Ann Arbor Police
Department reported to the scene and
DPS officers assisted in cordoning off
the area.
Juvenile sexual
abuse victim
lands in hospital
DPS assisted the Green Oak
Township Police after an incident
involving criminal sexual conduct
involving a child occurred late Sun-
day night. The victim was taken to
the University Hospital's emergency
room. DPS was notified because the
victim was brought to the University
Hospital.
Woman kicks
vendor's T-shirts;
shirts confiscated
DPS reports show that a woman
was reported kicking a bag of T-
shirts being sold by a vendor out-
side Crisler Arena late Sunday
morning. Officers responded to
reports of the disorderly woman and
discovered the man was selling the
shirts without a permit. Officers
confiscated 43 shirts. No one sus-
tained any injuries.
ROTC flag stolen
from unattended
six-foot-tall pole
Sunday night, a caller reported to
DPS that an ROTC flag had been
stolen from the Diag within the past 10
minutes. The flag was located atop a
six-foot-tall pole. The flag and pole
were left unattended while members of
the ROTC polished the "M" on the
Diag. DPS currently has no suspects.
Victim reports
cash continuously
stolen from wallet
A person reported to DPS that
money has been stolen from their
wallet on a regular basis. A police
report was filed and there is a possi-
ble suspect.
Police escort
trespasser from
Crisler Arena
A man was found trespassing at
Csler Arena during a basketball game
ate Sunday morning, according to
DPS. The man had been known for
solicitation. He was given a verbal
warning and DPS told him he would be
arrested the next time he is caught tres-
passing. Officers later escorted the
man out of the building.
Parking attendants
report person with
stolen bus pass
DPS reports show that the parking
service at the Thompson Street parking
lot reported an incident involving bus
pass fraud early Monday morning.
As the suspect tried to purchase a

parking pass at the lot, the parking
attendant noticed the suspect was in
possession of a bus pass that
belonged to someone else. The atten-
dant reported the incident to DPS -
the bus pass had been declared miss-
ing or stolen several months ago. A
report was filed and an investigation
is underway.
Person logs onto
computer and
changes password
A caller contacted DPS late Mon-
day morning and requested to meet
with an officer regarding suspicious
use of a computer. Someone who
had the caller's password logged
onto the caller's computer and
changed the access codes. The next
morning, the caller was unable to
access the computer. There are cur-
rently no suspects and DPS is inves-
tigating the case.
Skateboarders
reported at
parking garage
DPS records shnw that a caller

By Anne Joling
For The Daily
According to communications Prof. Dmitri
Williams, most people who hear about his
work assume he plays videogames all day. But
their assumptions are quite far from the truth.
Unlike most communications classes,
Williams' Communications 479 sections focus
on the new and ever-expanding field of
videogame research.
The class seeks to explain to students just how
important the videogame industry is, while also
teaching them about economics, media history
and other topics that can be found within the
world of videogames and beyond.
"It's strange when people ask me what exact-
ly video game research is. That's like asking
what television or film research are, but people
just aren't used to the idea yet," Williams said.
He said videogame research is a growing
field studying all aspects of games, from their
effects on people in the form of causing vio-
lence and aggression - as well as their possi-
ble beneficial effects on society - to their
economic and cultural impact.

"Videogaming is a large industry. The major-
ity of Americans are game players, so it's a
medium worth studying because it has a mas-
sive use, and has far-reaching effects,"
Williams said.
LSA junior Lori Fox is one of six students in
Williams' class. She said she believes his class
is valuable and agrees with his take on the
importance of videogame research.
"I think this class is important because not
much research is done on videogames, but
they seem to have just as big of an impact as
other forms of media. I think more people
need to be aware of how influential
videogames are," Fox said.
Last year, Williams said, the videogame
industry grossed more money than the motion
picture industry and is estimated to gross
upwards of $6.9 billion a year in the United
States, according to the Interactive Digital
Software Association.
"I use the videogames as a sort of example that
helps me to teach the class about all sorts of
important communications topics. I believe
videogames are an important topic in itself, but I
believe they can be used to help students gain a

better understanding of the communications field
as a whole," Williams said.
Williams is not the only faculty member on
campus who is involved in videogame
research. Communications and psychology
Prof. Brad Bushman is studying the effects of
violent videogames.
Bushman, in an effort to explain the impor-
tance of research on videogame aggression,
said videogames are more violent than con-
tent on TV or films.
"Videogame playing is highly active," Bush-
man said. "Violent games require the player to
identify with a violent character and the games
reward aggression. In addition, the amount of
violence in videogames is almost continuous."
While violence and the aggression many
people believe it causes are certainly the best
known and studied aspects of the videogame,
there are other elements being researched as
well at the University.
John Laird, a professor in electrical engi-
neering and computer science, said he is inter-
ested in research that would aid in the creation
of the games.
"The research my group does on computer

games is to use computer games as an envi-
ronment for testing out ideas on building arti-
ficial intelligence characters, as well as
exploring new types of games. By adding
artificial intelligence characters, it might be
possible to make computer games that are
more of a synthesis of interaction and plot-
driven stories," Laird said. While the types of
videogames that research is being conducted
on vary, it is certain that this field will con-
tinue to grow, Laird said.
Schools throughout the United States,
including the Massachusetts Institute of Tech-
nology as well as Purdue, Ohio State and
Princeton universities, all have classes and pro-
grams dealing in videogame research.
University scholars said they would eventu-
ally like to see the study of videogames as its
own degree program.
"There is no reason people shouldn't be able
to major in (videogame research) in the same
way they can major in film, but as a field it is
underdeveloped, so it's still very young,"
Williams said. "But gaming as a medium is
growing and there's no reason to believe it's
going to die off, so it's here to stay."

ENSIAN
Continued from Page 1A
Additionally, some staff members
will take pay cuts.
"We'll be cutting a little bit
design-wise and also cutting our
book count - the number of books
that we actually order," Editor in
Chief Melissa Mariola said.
With a reduced marketing budget,
staffers will be working to expand
awareness of the yearbook, Norris said.
They will maintain a continued pres-
ence on the Diag and in Angell Hall
using low-expense promotion.
Searching for innovative ideas, edi-
tors plan to advertise with companies
and, in return, request corporate spon-
sorship. Currently accepting bids for
new printing contracts, they are request-
ing that printers include marketing
. funds and strategies in their proposals.
They also require staffers to sell a cer-
tain number of books, a strategy Norris
said has increased staff involvement.
"We're learning what works and
what doesn't," said Norris, noting the
difficulties in developing marketing
strategies while the Ensian lacks the
resources to hire consultants or con-
duct its own research. The editors
recently applied to a Business School
program in which marketing students
assess a business strategies and offer
recommendations.
But board members acknowledged
that the solutions only address the
yearbook's short-term problems.
Long-term solutions include

improved marketing and advertising to
increase book sales. For board member
Marlene Goldsmith, more "publicity
awareness" is needed.
Other, less desirable options include
making the yearbook shorter or less
colorful. Drawing from her past expe-
riences with the publication, Gold-
smith mentioned that certain aspects of
the yearbook have been cut over the
years. "The book has gotten down
pretty tight," she said.
"I think generally you need to
resist the urge to diminish a product
when you're trying to sell more of
them," said Lenhoff, who also agreed
that selling more books, not cutting
costs, was a more sustainable busi-
ness model.
A better economy, however, could
also alleviate the publication's budget
concerns. Administrators cited the ten-
uous job market, state budget losses
and possible increases in tuition as
probable culprits in declining book
sales. These factors make it less likely
for students to spend on luxury items
such as a yearbook.
"It's no one person's fault, it's partly
due to the economy," Goldsmith said.
But Goldsmith, who was a senior
copy editor at the Ensian as an under-
graduate, added that the Ensian is the
only student publication that maintains
its value over long periods of time.
"You may not be particularly inter-
ested right now, but five to 10 years
down the road you'll wish that you had
(a yearbook)," she said.

Killer 'bees

LSA junior Max Kimbrough and LSA freshman Fernando Delgado practice for the Michigan
Ultimate Frisbee Club in front of the Chemistry Building yesterday.

Corrections:
A box on Page 1 of Tuesday's Daily should have said that the national unem-
ployment rate as of January 2004 was 5.6 percent.
Please report any errors in the Daily to corrections(rmichigandaily.com

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